Sunday, September 6, 2015

Adventures in Elf-adise!

Well—HOME we are but what a fun week we had in the mountains of North Carolina, specifically, Asheville. Asheville is an Elfin paradise with vegetarian and vegan options on the menus of almost every restaurant. Not only that, it’s the home of one of the top totally vegan restaurants in the country (Plant) as well as at least three totally vegetarian restaurants (Laughing Seed, Firestorm, Rosetta’s Kitchen). So, here’s the deal, we ate at least three meals at Laughing Seed, our favorite. Since they offer vegan selections as well as vegetarian selections, Big Solid was happy. My brother, Jud, joined us for a sleep over and also for one of the meals at Laughing Seed. Why we didn’t take a picture is beyond any rational thought.
 Pics of meals at Laughing Seed
The Elf’s favorite Laughing Seed meal is a raw dish called Spinach-Pesto Manicotti.  Zucchini noodles stuffed with live sunflower-spinach pesto, cashew ricotta, and fresh basil served over sun-dried tomato marinara with house-marinated olives.

Thai Panang Seitan Curry
Mixed vegetables and crispy seitan stir-fried in an authentic, lively Panang curry sauce and heaped between cumin-infused papadam, with jasmine rice and mung sprouts.

Tico Taco Salad
A bed of organic mixed greens topped with black beans, shredded Jack cheese, our grilled spiced Tico tofu, salsa, guacamole, cherry tomatoes, red onion and fresh jalapenos. Served with organic blue corn chips. (Note:  Black beans and Big Solid is a REALLY bad combination so he was able to substitute lentils.)

Another restaurant we ate at quite frequently was within walking distance of our little Montford Airbnb house. The restaurant was called Nine Mile, specializing in Jamaican cuisine. It was not all vegetarian but almost all of the menu items could be vegetarianized or veganized. We thoroughly enjoyed it! 

 The Nine Mile’s signature dish. Grilled Jerk Chicken or tofu with fresh ginger, fire roasted tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, squash, & zucchini, sautéed with white wine & butter (or oil for vegan). Tossed with linguine and finished with spring onions. Other options included basmati rice or spiralized zucchini noodles.

The Elf’s favorite dish from Nine Mile was called Irie Ites: Tofu sautéed with white wine, garden fresh vegetables, in a creamy dairy free basil pesto; tossed with cavatappi pasta & spring onions.  In fact, The Elf had this dish twice!

Big Solid’s first dish at Nine Mile was called Marley’s Magic—he had to since we have Marley the Wayward Poodle. He had the Carolina trout version over zucchini noodles. Big Solid is not a big pasta Rasta. Grilled Jerk Carolina Trout with cauliflower, carrots & bell peppers, sautéed in a white wine, creamy, dairy-free coconut ginger curry sauce. Tossed with linguine or served over basmati rice and finished with spring onions. Sorry—no picture.
Our final restaurant spotlight is a very popular place called Early Girl Eatery.

We thought we were being clever to get there shortly after they opened on Sunday morning only to find that there was already a 45 minute wait! WHOA! Well, Big Solid hitched up his big boy pants and sucked in a deep breath and waited it out ‘for The Elf’. We’d heard so much about this place and had never taken the time to go. Big Solid had a nice omelet (they serve bacon, sausage and some vegetarian/vegan stuffs) and The Elf had the Tofu Scramble. It was delicious!

OK, enough of the Elfery Eat-apalooza. Suffice it to say that we had a most enjoyable time in a town and area that is so exercise, vegetarian and vegan friendly. We took a wonderful guided hike to several local waterfalls and even saw a purple mushroom, which we, OF COURSE, dubbed ‘Purple Haze’—since that’s probably what you’d be in if you ate it. Here’s the link to the tour site…we highly recommend!
The Elf and Big Solid at Looking Glass Falls/Looking Glass Falls

The Purple Mushroom (‘Purple Haze’)

The Elf and Big Solid at Triple Falls/Long shot of Triple Falls

AND FINALLY!! When we got home, we felt so stuffed with good food and libations we  needed a bit of an eating slow-down. One of the neat places we ate during a short excursion over to Black Mountain was a cool little eatery called The Veranda. 
They advertised a Hungarian Mushroom Soup as a special but it was not vegan. HOWSOMEVER, the thought of it stuck in The Elf’s little old brain. We found several recipes for Hungarian Mushroom soup but only one that included how to veganize it. <
Throw some coarsely chopped mushrooms (about 12 oz.) into already sautéed onion and garlic

Add the seasonings of paprika, dill, salt, pepper

Prepare a roux of vegan butter and flour (The Elf is woefully pathetic at patience to get the depth of color but getting better!) Then add vegetable stock, soy sauce and The Elf took the liberty of throwing it a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke

Then add the mushroom mixture to the liquid base and let simmer for about 15 minutes. We added some cubed sautéed tempeh for some extra substance (not necessary but we do love tempeh)

And served with some toasted sour dough bread. The ELF LOVED it…Big Solid, not so much. No matter…more for The Elf.

So there you have it. We feel like we’ve been away from this little blog forever! Glad to be back in the writing saddle. Next week, we’ll see what other kinds of kinky elfin cookery we can divine. Thanks as always for readin’ us and please share. We love new folks!! Til then, remember to remember to breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants and love life.
The Elf

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